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July 14, 2020

Reps. Trone, Budd, Cicilline, McKinley Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Access to Telehealth Services for Substance Use Disorder Treatment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hannah Muldavin, Hannah.Muldavin@mail.house.gov 

 

Reps. Trone, Budd, Cicilline, McKinley Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Access to Telehealth Services for Substance Use Disorder Treatment

 

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, U.S. Representatives David Trone (D-MD), Ted Budd (R-NC), David Cicilline (D-RI), and David B. McKinley P.E. (R-WV) introduced the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act to support the expansion of telehealth services for substance use disorder treatment. 

The TREATS Act would extend telehealth flexibilities by making permanent key waivers, including the ability to prescribe Medication Assisted Therapies (MAT) and other necessary drugs without needing a prior in-person visit and the ability to bill Medicare for audio-only telehealth services.  By taking these steps, the TREATS Act will increase overall access to MAT and support telehealth needs in rural communities where broadband may be needed.

“People with substance use disorder have been put at particular risk during this pandemic,” said Rep. David Trone. “The telehealth waivers implemented for COVID-19 are innovations long-needed by people seeking treatment or in recovery. The TREATS Act will allow us to make these life-saving addiction policies permanent. I want to thank my colleagues for working in a bipartisan way on this bill that will help save lives across the country.”

“Overdoses are on the rise across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress should be making it easier to access treatment and the TREATS Act does just that,” said Rep. McKinley. “This bill would make it easier for those in both rural and urban areas to access vital addiction treatments. As we know substance abuse disorders do not discriminate based on location and patients should not have to choose between getting treatment and risking their health and safety to do so.”

“We should make it as easy as possible for those who struggle with substance abuse to get the help they need. Data has shown that overdoses have spiked nationally in March, April, and May during pandemic-related lockdowns. Especially during COVID-19, cutting out regulatory barriers to treatment should be a national priority, and I’m proud to support a bill like the TREATS Act that does just that,” said Rep. Budd.

“Telehealth services are critical for folks struggling through the cycle of addiction right now,” said Rep. Cicilline. “Opioid abuse is still a leading cause of death for Rhode Islanders. This bill will help ensure that folks who need help can get it.”

“The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) commends Representatives McKinley, Cicilline, Trone, and Budd for their leadership in introducing the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services Act,” said Paul H. Earley, MD, DFASAM, president of ASAM. “By permanently expanding access to addiction treatment through telemedicine, this bipartisan legislation will go a long way towards preventing overdose deaths and supporting many Americans in reaching remission and recovery.”

 

Background:

The bill would build upon the Trump Administration’s action to waive regulatory restrictions for accessing care in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the temporary waivers provide a necessary reprieve for patients so that they may continue their treatments and counseling virtually, they are time limited and will ultimately expire at the conclusion of the Public Health Emergency. 

The legislation is supported by: American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, American Society for Addiction Medicine, American College of Medical Toxicology, Kennedy Forum, National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, National Association of Behavioral Healthcare, National Council for Behavioral Health, National Safety Council, Shatterproof, and Well Being Trust.

To read bill text, click here

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees, where he is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.

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